With magnificent architecture, interesting ethnic enclaves, and stand-out museums, Chicago’s Far South encompasses districts such as Hyde Park and Kenwood that merit a journey off the beaten tourist track – despite being bordered to the south by some less-than-welcoming neighborhoods. Hyde Park and Kenwood began life as suburbs for the wealthy escaping the dirty city; today, this part of town is a fascinating melting pot of University of Chicago students and Mexican, Asian, African-American, and Indian residents. Recreation and leisure opportunities abound on spectacular tracts of green space, including the University of Chicago’s Midway Plaisance and Jackson Park, site of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition .

  1. Museum of Science and Industry

    The largest science museum with­in a single building in the Western Hemisphere, this museum attracts an amazing two million people a year .

    Giant Heart, Museum of Science and Industry
  2. University of Chicago

    Noted for its research and high educational standards, this remarkable private university has produced over 70 Nobel Prize winners .

    University of Chicago Campus
  3. DuSable Museum of African-American History

    Located on the eastern edge of the beautiful Washington Park, this museum is named after Chicago’s first non-native settler, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. The permanent exhibits here celebrate other firsts, such as the first black US astronaut, Major Robert Lawrence, and Chicago’s first and only African-American mayor, Harold Washington. Thought-provoking exhibits include rusted slave shackles and the “Freedom Now” mural, depicting 400 years of African-American history from the early days of slavery to Civil Rights marches.

    • 740 E. 56th Pl

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sat, noon–5pm Sun

    • Adm. (free Sun)

    • DA

  4. South Shore Cultural Center

    How ironic that this bustling arts and community center, which serves a largely African-American demographic, began in 1905 as an exclusive country club that barred minority members. Designed by the team who later worked on the elegant Drake Hotel, this grand Mediterranean-style structure was bought and lovingly restored by the Chicago Park District when the country club fizzled out in the 1970s. Extravagant landscaping and flower beds complete the pretty picture, making it a popular spot for weddings and festivals, as well as for all kinds of performances and classes. Its golf course, nature park, and the public beach behind it add to its many draws.

    • 7059 S. Shore Dr

    • Open 9am–6pm Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm Sat

    • Free (except classes)

    • DA

  5. Oriental Institute

    Learn about the origins of agriculture, the invention of writing, the birth of civilization, and the beginning of the study of arts, science, politics, and religion at this University of Chicago departmental museum. Its five galleries showcase ancient Near Eastern civilizations from about 3500 BC to AD 100, and the exhibits were largely unearthed during the department’s own excavations.

    • 1155 E. 58th St.

    • 10am–6pm Tue–Sat (to 8:30pm Wed), noon–6pm Sun

    • Free

    Bust (c. 1840 BC), Oriental Institute
  6. Robie House

    This splendid 1909 residence by Frank Lloyd Wright is easily spotted by its steel-beam roof, which overhangs the building by 20 ft (6 m) at each end. Take a tour through its low-ceilinged interior, and past more than 170 art-glass windows and doors, to gain insight into the ongoing, extensive ten-year restoration program. The building was a private home until 1926, when it became a dormitory for the Chicago Theological Seminary. It was later bought by a development firm, who donated it to the University of Chicago in 1963, the same year it was designated a National Historic Landmark.

    • 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave

    • Tours 11am, 1pm, 3pm Mon–Fri, every 30 min 11am–3:30pm Sat & Sun, call: 708 848 1976

    • Adm. adults $12, children and seniors $10

    • No DA

    Frank Lloyd Wright tables and chairs in Robie House
  7. Kenwood Historic District

    A world apart from some of the Far South’s dicier areas, this wealthy enclave within Kenwood, founded by John A. Kennicott in 1856, has mansions that must be seen to be believed. In the late 19th century this area was an upscale Chicago suburb, where wealthy residents built majestic homes on spacious lots, a rarity in the quickly booming city. A stroll around the district uncovers architectural styles ranging from Italianate and Colonial Revival to Prairie style, by influential figures such as Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frank Lloyd Wright .


    • E. 43rd St. (north), E. 51st St. (south), S. Blackstone Ave. (east), and S. Drexel Blvd. (west)

  8. Washington Park

    Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of New York’s Central Park, also created this 371-acre (150-ha) green space for Chicago residents in the early 1870s. It originally attracted mainly wealthy city dwellers who enjoyed parading around the scenic space. Today, it’s a beautiful and widely used park with recreational programs, the DuSable Museum of African-American History, and Lorado Taft’s striking 110-ft (34-m) long sculpture, Fountain of Time, which took him 14 years to build. It is unwise to venture into the park after dark.

    • Open dawn–11pm (approx)

    • Free

    • DA

    Detail of Taft’s Fountain of Time, Washington Park
  9. Osaka Japanese Gardens

    At the north end of Jackson Park’s serene Wooded Island (which is excellent for bird-watching), lies this hushed retreat, complete with meandering paths, lagoons, and fountains. The extraordinary garden is a partial re-creation of the one formed in 1934 around the beautiful Japanese Pavilion that had been built for the 1893 Expo, but which sadly burned down in 1946. The gardens were renamed in 1993 for one of Chicago’s sister cities, Osaka, which donated the Japanese gate seen here.

    Jackson Park

    • 58th St. & Lake Shore Dr.

    • Open dawn–dusk

    • Free

    • DA

    Osaka Japanese Gardens
  10. University of Chicago Sculptures

    Strolling around the University of Chicago campus, there’s more of visual interest than its buildings alone. Over the years, the university has acquired around 12 outdoor sculptures, including Wolf Vostell’s whimsical 1970 Concrete Traffic, a car embedded in concrete at the southwest end of the Midway Plaisance and the sobering Nuclear Energy, a bronze by Henry Moore that resembles a mushroom cloud. Set within a reflecting pool at 60th Street and University Avenue is Construction in Space in the Third and Fourth Dimension, a soaring abstract piece created in the 1950s by Constructivist Antoine Pevsner, which visually depicts the space-time continuum .

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